Please pass the Tofu

I have observed a change in the nature of pot-luck suppers over the past 40 or so years. In my youth, it was a matter of honor and pride to provide home-made items, fresh vegetables, pies and cakes baked from scratch, and Southern fried chicken. The chickens were often home-raised and dispatched to their eternal reward by one of the younger family members. Said chicken was plucked, cleaned, quartered, and fried in lard in a cast-iron skillet. (Can’t you just feel your arteries hardening?) Even the organs such as the liver, hearts and gizzard were added to the skillet! All of these wondrous offerings were presented on wood trestle tables adorned with tablecloths – a marvelous culinary spectacle!

In the late 1960’s to early 1970’s a subtle change began to occur. Fried chicken began to arrive in buckets festooned with the visage of a genteel Southern colonel. Home-made items still dominated, but some of the cakes were from *gasp!* CAKE MIXES. Even some of the vegetables were rumored to originate from cans instead of local gardens. Yet these interlopers were tolerated, although usually left for the late-comers to the pot-luck supper.

As time passed and people became more health conscious, salads of various kinds began to appear: fruit salads, tossed salads, three or more bean salads, seven-layer salads, and the mysterious “congealed” salad. Who knew what lurked in these salads?

The 1980’s brought a new and sinister turn: The advent of “chicken fingers.” Most of us knew that chickens did not have fingers so we viewed these interlopers with suspicion. They did not have bones. Some did not even have skin! Surely this was not chicken as God intended. To make matters worse, many of the desserts arrived in plastic containers from Wal-Mart. It was now common to make the pot-luck experience a convenient exercise rather than a celebration of the talents of the local cooks and gardeners. Old timers shook their heads sadly as they chewed their chicken nuggets, canned corn, pasta salads, and frozen pies. Oh, the humanity!

Today, the church pot-luck is a shadow of its former glory. To be sure, we enjoy fellowship with one another and thank God to be a part of the Christian community. Still, many of us miss the days of steaming mounds of fried chicken with SKIN and BONES. We long for fresh vegetables, real mashed potatoes (no instant spuds for us!), pies and cakes baked from scratch using age-old family recipes. And, please, spare us the plastic forks and spoons that are guaranteed to break when we plunge them into our congealed pasta and tofu sorbet (just add water, microwave for 20 seconds, pop in the freezer, and you’re done!)

Hey,  you gonna eat that chicken finger?

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